UPDATE, 1:15 PM: Reactions are starting to come it to FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn’s warning that she might step in if the stalemate between CBS and Time Warner Cable continues. The cable company says it agrees that “consumers are being adversely affected,” and hopes that CBS “soon will come to a reasonable agreement with us.” A coalition of cable programmers and distributors, the American Television Alliance, says the FCC “has sat on the sidelines for too long” to fix a system that is “clearly broken.” But Medley Global Advisors’ Jeffrey Silva says Clyburn probably won’t do more than jawbone. “Lawmakers tend to think twice before getting into a scrap with broadcasters, finding their presence in Washington and their home states/districts a potential existential threat.”
PREVIOUS, 11:32 AM: It’s still a vague threat, but FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn told reporters today that she’s “ready to consider appropriate action” if CBS and Time Warner Cable don’t settle the weeklong contract dispute that has left millions of TWC subscribers unable to watch CBS and Showtime. “Quite frankly I am deeply disappointed that the parties seem to be unable to reach a retransmission agreement,” Clyburn said according to Broadcasting & Cable. “I am really distressed that consumers and viewers are being adversely affected, and my primary concern remains with them. We will continue to urge both parties to stay and resolve in good faith this issue as soon as possible.” She added that the FCC is “actively monitoring the status of this particular dispute and is in touch with both parties.” CBS and TWC said yesterday that they’ve resumed negotiations, but there’s been no indication that they’re making progress. It’s also not clear what the FCC might do — or how it would justify engaging in this retransmission fight but not others, including one between Dish Network and Raycom Media. Yesterday a representative of the National Association of Broadcasters told a New York City Council committee that the FCC should eliminate financial penalties for pay TV subscribers who want to switch providers, and receive a refund when channels in the package become unavailable.
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